The National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC) and The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED) apparently have no plans of relenting from its respective bargaining positions — in advance of a potential nationwide railway strike on Dec. 9 — despite President Joe Biden’s calls for Congress to pass legislation that would enforce the tentative rail-labor agreement.
In a joint statement, the NRLC and BMWED didn’t share the Biden administration’s optimism for concocting a labor resolution within the next 10 days.
Congressional legislation regarding a railway strike “denies railroad workers their right to strike while also denying them of the benefit they would likely otherwise obtain if they were not denied their right to strike,” the statement reads.
“Additionally, passing legislation to adopt tentative agreements that exclude paid sick leave for railroad workers will not address rail service issues. Rather, it will worsen supply chain issues and further sicken, infuriate, and disenfranchise railroad workers as they continue shouldering the burdens of the railroads’ mismanagement.”
The BMWED also appealed to members of the Democrat-controlled Congress, requesting they support “the working class to act swiftly by passing any sort of reforms and regulations that will provide paid sick leave for all Railroad Workers.”
On Monday, just hours after President Biden encouraged Congress to act quickly on passing legislation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reportedly backed the public pledge of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“[Tuesday] morning, we will have a bill on the floor,” Pelosi told reporters after the meeting.
Reiterating what Newsmax has been reporting over the last three months, railroad industry economists estimate a loss of $2 billion per day, in the event of a railway strike. The inability to move diesel fuel throughout the country could also have a crippling effect on the supply chains for food and gasoline.
According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), 40% of cargo based by weight and long distance freight is moved by rail.
The AAR also states the Presidential Emergency Board reviewed the union’s request for additional paid sick days and instead offered additional salary.
Each union has its own sick day policy, according to the NRLC.
In a nutshell, when an employee is sick and cannot make it to work, it’ll require an absence range of 4-7 days before the workers can “collect their version of sick pay,” according to CNBC.
In the tentative deal, as CNBC reports, the presidential negotiators offered one additional personal day for their use. This would mean three total personal days for railroad workers.
However, a worker must also provide 48 hours’ notice to request a personal day.
A “coordinated strike” could start formulating as early as Dec. 9, if no agreement is reached among the unions, writes CNBC.
Also, railroad unions that voted for ratification will reportedly “not cross the picket lines and will support their fellow union workers, posing the risk of a nationwide freight rail shutdown.”
It’s worth noting: Chemicals would no longer be transported throughout the U.S., roughly 96 hours before a strike date.
In a recent press conference, AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies told reporters, “If the unions are interested in a holistic discussion for structural changes as it relates to their sick time, I think absolutely the railroad carriers would be up for a holistic discussion; but [they] have not done it in the zero hour.”
According to CNBC, the alignment of the four unions — including the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers — that have yet to ratify a labor deal has provided “a clear timeline for strike prep plans among the freight railroads and with sensitive cargo including chemicals.”
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